What is discrimination in the workplace? For many, there are different categories.
One could be a disability, age, sex, race, religion, gender, nationality, marital status or that you have a learning difficulty which is classified as an invisible disability.
While working at a company as a [paraplegic], I have noticed that colleagues and management tend to treat me differently, and I would find myself in some awkward situations.
I am sure many can relate; for instance, you might find the management finding it difficult to have a normal conversation with you or your colleagues having certain activities that don't include you.
I can recall passing some of my co-workers in the corridor. They were all chatting and laughing, planning to go hang out at the pub after work; I am sure in most working environments, people do Socialise outside of the workplace; this is nothing strange, even though none of them asked me if i would like to come along.
Not that I would like to, but it would be nice to have been included.
However, It really doesn't affect me as much as it would when I initially had my injury; over the years, I have come to understand that some people don't understand that being disabled doesn't mean you can't have a normal life, I guess it's up to educating themselves about people living with disabilities for them to truly understand how it is like living life with a disability
And many people don't realise that they can stand up for themselves at the workplace without the fear of being fired.
The Equality Act 2010 "legally protects people from discrimination in the workplace and in wider society.
It replaced previous anti-discrimination laws with a single Act, making the law easier to understand and strengthening protection in some situations. It sets out the different ways in which it's unlawful to treat someone". ( gov.uk).
This brings me to the subject heading, and I am quite sure that some of you have experience cruelty, being bullied, victimisation and discrimination at your workplace, The initial thing would be to take it to your line managers or draft up a formal complaint, right?
Of course, it's the right approach, especially if you expect your managers to do the right thing.
Sadly, this is not the case as there are individuals sitting in high positions without morals and values and no respect for equality and diversity or human rights.
Have you ever noticed as a disabled employee, if you complain about being harassed or discriminated against at the workplace, you become the person of interest? and everything is switched around, now everything is your fault.
As a person who is wheelchair bound, I have experienced being mocked, laughed at, and mobbed by managers combining together with their favoured co-workers.
With one intention set in their minds, 'let's get rid of the cripple', hash, but true.
When you are disabled at a workplace, people around you tend to think you're keeping them back or that they're stuck with the responsibility of babysitting you whenever you are working a shift together.
They have no idea that as a person living with a disability for many years, some have even been born with their disability and are more than capable of looking after themselves, sometimes even better than someone else trying to take care of them.
With this in mind - after standing up - to a bully reaching out to management expecting to be protected and comforted, even supported.
Unfortunately, you find yourself literally having to defend yourself as if you are now the bully or the accused.
You are now forced to answer silly questions, being called into the office and interrogated and investigated about what is the meaning of victimisation. Or what do you mean by discrimination? Can you describe the events you classify as harassment?
A barrage of questions implies that somehow everything is in your head, and because of your disability, you cannot differentiate, or maybe you may have misunderstood or misinterpreted what was being said and done to you.
It is very insulting to the disabled community when we take a matter of bullying, victimisation, discrimination and harassment to the management of your workplace, and they treat what you are saying with Scrutiny, which adds injury to feeling and implies from the beginning that they don't believe what you are saying.
Now, I am in support that the management has legal duties to treat all employees equally, and a person is innocent until proven guilty.
But if this is truly the case, why is it that they treat a disabled employee's allegations with so much Scrutiny?
On top of that, they show favouritism to the accused because they are able-bodied and as long as they are getting the job done for the management.
Many companies have done this and have gotten away with this type of treatment for too long; they cover up corruption, discrimination, victimisation and unwanted conduct at the workplace as long as their job is being done.
They don't care about who misbehaves at the workplace because that individual is, for example, getting the work done for them.
So most management would rather cover up and hide the facts that their employees are bullies than admit or remove these individuals because these individuals are getting the work done.
Suddenly, the victims become a problem. Managers, as well as their colleagues, are finding faults in the way you carry out your duties and the way you perform, now they are set out to Illuminate you because "how dare you to try to expose us".
Unfortunately, certain managers lack etiquette and do not have a moral compass; that's why there are laws in place for our protection; this is the mentality of most companies in the UK, especially large companies, they don't stand for equality and diversity, human rights or the rights of people living with disabilities.
"The Human Rights Act 1998 sets out the fundamental rights and freedoms that everyone in the UK is entitled to. It incorporates the rights set out in the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) into domestic British law. The Human Rights Act came into force in the UK in October 2000". ( gov.UK ).
So if you are being targeted, harassed, or victimised by co-workers, or managers at your workplace, don't be afraid to speak up against any Kind of misconduct or bullying that's taking place at your workplace.
You are not alone if you are being taken advantage of by a senior staff member and need legal representation. Some organisations and charities will help you in cases like those mentioned above.
"A trade union is an organisation with members who are usually workers or employees. It looks after their interests at work by doing things like:
negotiating agreements with employers on pay and conditions
discussing big changes like large-scale redundancy
discussing members' concerns with employers
going with members to disciplinary and grievance meetings". ( gov.UK ).
The Acas helpline is for anyone who needs employment law or workplace advice, including employers, employees and workers.
Any work-related problem or question you have, what the law says and how it relates to your
good practice at work, your options, including any risks and benefits
You do not have to give any personal details. (acas.org.uk)
There is no reason for you to continue living in fear, you know now that the law is on your side, and you also have rights.
So in the future, if you are a victim of discrimination, bullying, victimisation or any type of inappropriate behaviour from either a co-worker or manager at your workplace, stand up for yourself and put your foot down.